Community Celebration Takes Center Stage at 2017 Helen Hayes Awards
The 33rd annual Helen Hayes Awards will be celebrated at the historic Lincoln Theatre at 7:30 pm on May 15, with accomplished actors E. Faye Butler and Lawrence Redmond as hosts. The line-up of award presenters includes artistic leaders from across the Washington region, highlighting the depth and breadth of a theatre community recognized worldwide for the quality and diversity of its work. Following the awards, a roof-raising dance party gets underway at the world-renowned 9:30 Club. Both events honor 236 Helen Hayes Award nominees drawn from 200 eligible productions presented in 2016. Tickets for The Combined Awards Ceremony and Dance Party are $275 for premium seating, $150 for balcony seating, and can be purchased online.Presenters include Bonnie Nelson Schwartz, producer and Helen Hayes Award founder, along with artistic leaders Alex Levy of 1st Stage, Michael Bobbitt of Adventure Theatre MTC, Seema Seuko of Arena Stage, Allison Stockman of Constellation Theatre Company, Jenny McConnell Frederick of Rorschach Theatre, Michael Dove of Forum Theatre, Hugo Medrano and Rebecca Medrano of GALA Hispanic Theatre, Jason Loewith of Olney Theatre Center, Patti Kalil andMatt Reckeweg of Pointless Theatre, Ryan Rillette of Round House Theatre, Michael Kahn of Shakespeare Theatre Company, Adam Immerwahr of Theater J, Deb Gottesman and Buzz Mauro of Theatre Lab, Bill Largess of Washington Stage Guild, Howard Shalwitz of Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, and Tom Prewitt of WSC Avant Bard. Additional participants include funder Carl Nash and Kay Kendall of the DC Commission of the Arts and Humanities, and theAmerican Pops Orchestra under the leadership of Luke Frasier. theatreWashington President and CEO Amy Austin commented, "This city boasts great actors, great designers, great directors, great technicians and great support staff. It also boasts some of the most amazing, visionary artistic leaders in the country. It's their expression, leadership and artistic know-how that puts this city in the center of the nation's theatrical map. At the Helen Hayes Awards this year, you'll feel that first-hand." In addition to a starry line-up of presenters, nominees, and award recipients, the evening includes the Helen Hayes Tribute honoring veteran actor Ted van Greithuysen. One of the community's most admired artists, van Griethuysen has appeared in leading roles with Shakespeare Theatre Company and Studio Theatre since their earliest days. Over the course of his career he has been nominated for 16 Helen Hayes Awards and has received the award seven times. Also being recognized are five theatre companies that recently completed the two-year process to become eligible for the John Aniello Award for Outstanding Emerging Theatre Company. This year's recipient will be chosen from among Convergence Theatre, InterAct Story Theatre, Mosaic Theater Company of DC, Nu Sass Productions, and Rainbow Theatre Project. Named for actor Helen Hayes - a Washington native and legendary First Lady of the American Theatre - the Helen Hayes Awards has honored excellence in professional theatre throughout the Washington region for more than three decades. Nominations are grouped in "Helen" or "Hayes" cohorts, depending on the number of Equity members involved in the production. Over the course of 2016, 40 carefully vetted judges considered 2,853 individual pieces of work, such as design, direction, choreography, etc. Performances by actors accounted for roughly half the elements under consideration. Productions under consideration in 2016 included 54 musicals, 146 plays, and 41 world premieres. (Award rules can be found at theatreWashington.org.)
The Helen Hayes Awards are sponsored by TodayTix, a ticketing platform on a mission to connect the next generation of culture lovers to theater by making it more accessible, easy, and fun. Operating in the world's most iconic theater markets, TodayTix's free mobile apps for iOS and Android secure the best discounted and full price tickets available for the hottest shows in the DC Metro Area, New York City, London's West End, the San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, Connecticut, Philadelphia, and Seattle. Life-long friends and Broadway producers Merritt Baer and Brian Fenty launched TodayTix in New York City in December 2013 and the company now has partnerships with more than 450 theater institutions around the world.
The Lincoln Theatre, built in 1922, is the cultural center of the dynamic U Street neighborhood. Washington natives Duke Ellington and Pearl Bailey performed on its stage, along with such acclaimed artists as Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holliday, Nat King Cole, Cab Calloway, Louis Armstrong, and Sarah Vaughn. The 9:30 Club has an equally stellar history. Its stage has been home to the likes of R.E.M., the Go-Go's, Cyndi Lauper, 10,000 Maniacs, Bob Dylan, Rufus Wainwright, Adele, and David Bowie.
theatreWashington and the Helen Hayes Awards are supported in part by the DC Commission of the Arts and Humanities, The Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation, The Max and Victoria Dreyfus Foundation, The Share Fund, Prince Charitable Trust, and Craig Pascaland Victor Shargai.
The administration and celebration of the Helen Hayes Awards is just one element of theatreWashington's mission, which is to strengthen, represent, and support all segments of Washington's professional theatre community, including theatre companies, artists, staff, and diverse audiences of all ages. Over more than three decades of support and advocacy, theatreWashington has played a vital role in the transformation of the city's cultural identity, with the resulting revitalization of the community as a whole.